Power failure

2019-03-07 07:07:02

By Paul Marks MAINS electricity lines will not be bringing superfast Internet connections to British homes, as some had hoped. Nor.Web, the Manchester-based company planning to roll out such a system, closed last week, with its backers citing poor prospects for its Digital Power Line (DPL) system. The advent of even faster systems for Net access probably contributed to the decision. Nor.Web was a joint venture of Britain’s United Utilities and Nortel, the Canadian telecoms systems company. Formed in March 1998, its aim was to exploit their jointly developed and patented technology for piggybacking data on power lines. In the DPL system, data is distributed to homes via electricity substations by superimposing a 1-megahertz data-carrying signal on top of the mains power signal. Although DPL offered Net connections of 1 megabit per second, BT’s forthcoming ADSL network will offer up to 10 megabits per second—200 times the speed of today’s fastest modem (New Scientist, 17 July, p 6). Technical issues also clouded DPL’s prospects (New Scientist, 30 May 1998, p 4). But Paul Brown, Nor.Web’s director of power systems, insists it would have worked: